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5 posts from October 2010


¡Força Catalunya! (September 11th)

Manon Name: Manon
CIEE Barcelona Program: Advanced Liberal Arts
Semester: Fall 2010
Home School: Eckerd College

September 11: turns out it's also the day of the official festival of Catalunya. It's kind of an ironic celebration for a number of reasons. From what I understand, it is on this day in 1714 that the Catalán army was overthrown by the Franco-Spanish army (the Bourbons). Catalunya wanted a Habsburg ruler. So in effect, it is the celebration of a military loss. I should mention that I had to look up the word overthrow in my spanish-english dictionary because the only word that came to mind was derrumbar.Sept11 So yes—Catalunya celebrates a military loss. I can understand that the people are proud of the fight their ancestors put up in the name of freedom, but it's a bit as if they ar e saying, if we HAD won on this day, we WOULD be celebrating our independence, so let's just celebrate it anyway. There were flags all over the city. The plain yellow/red striped flag is the recognized flag of Catalunya, while the one with the blue and the star is a flag of Catalunya independence, which isn't nationally recognized. I should say, rather, SPAIN doesn't recognize it.Manonblog1Manonblog2 In the late afternoon there was a huge demonstration—thousands of people marched through the streets, including a number of important political figures. Catalunya really wants its independence. (I can see the Monty Python version now:"If you want independence, you REALLY have to hate Spain." "I do!" "Oh yeah? How much?" "A lot!"-if you haven't seen Life of Brian, disregard text inside these parentheses) Unfortunately I did not get pictures of the demonstration. I didn't really want to draw attention to my american-ness by taking out a camera while surrounded by crowds of excitable people. At that point, I was with a Catalán friend, who explained the history and politics of it all to me. We walked through Born, in the Barri Gòtic, which is an important area of Catalunya national pride because it was built by the pueblo-literally, its inhabitants built the barrio themselves. Then we met up with some more of her friends near the Arc de Triomf, where some concerts were going on.Manonblog3 


Class Trips

Blogjustin Name: Justin
CIEE Barcelona Program: Architecture & Design
Semester: Fall 2010
Home School: University of California, Berkley
(enrolled through Spellman College)

    As an architecture student, the best thing about studying abroad in a city filled with rich history and iconic edifices is that you don’t have sit in a classroom and study from boring slides. For my “City and Visual Culture” and “Gaudi and His Contemporaries” classes, we get the chance to go on sites and get personal tours of the things we are learning about. Amongst places such as the Caixa Forum, La Pedrera, and Olympic Park, the following are just two visits that I had really enjoyed:

Torre Agbar Blogagbar
      This place isn’t normally open to the general public, so I was very excited when CIEE arranged us to get an inside look of this modern landmark. Everyone that visits Barcelona knows how prominent and “interesting” this building by Jean Nouveal looks from the outside, but very little people actually know what it looks on the inside. When we got a tour, I found out that the Torre Agbar is actually owned by a very exclusive water company that wanted an office tower to resemble a geyser. The internal structure contains one mechanical core and a couple elevator shafts on the periphery that apparently gives the passengers nausea from the speed.

The tower is connected by two non-concentric ovals with a glass dome on top, which we also got a chance to visit.


Sagrada Familia Blogsagrada1
  This was my favorite field trip as well as my favorite place in Barcelona. It was really nice to have my professor, Judith Urbano, as our tour guide. She has done many studies on Gaudi so her insights were more interesting and complete than the little electronic headphone guides visitors would normally get. She explained to us why the church took so long to complete and how Gaudi’s drawings were destroyed. She pointed out all the little organic motifs in the ornamentation and why the “passion” facade looks different than Gaudi’s.

Blogsagrada2     After the class, she told us to ride the elevator to the top of one of the towers and walk down the spiral stairs, which I would HIGHLY recommend. The building is really nothing I had ever seen before, and to see its completion is alone enough of a reason to come back to Barcelona.



Settling In

Sarah Name: Sarah
CIEE Barcelona Program: Language & Culture
Semester: Fall 2010
Home School: Guilford College        

Hey ya'll! Well, I made it all the way across the Atlantic to my new home BARCELONA!!

The first few days were a little rough, with the jet-lag, so many new faces, and (our most anticipated) new families. That is all I wanted to know about for those first three days: what are their names, where do they live, and OMG WHAT am I going to say to them when I first meet them?60282_1396615164126_1494630068_30902911_4598270_n

Turns out I had nothing to worry about.  I am really enjoying my Spanish family! I am living with an older couple, Angel and Rosa. Angel is an electrical supplies salesman, and Rosa is an artist, specializing in traditional Spanish furniture painting and exquisite landscapes and portraits. They are very caring and always try and make me feel comfortable and happy. They  are also a HUGE reason why my Spanish has improved as much as it has. I am really excited to say that I can now have almost fluent conversations with them about politics, current events, and regular daily activities. Of course there has been miscommunication and misunderstandings, but thank goodness for dictionaries and translators!!! Besides all that, Rosa is a FABULOUS cook, and is completely understanding when, even after I give baby squid a shot,59181_1396615204127_1494630068_30902912_5626552_n I just can't finish eating it.

 I have joined two different language exchange meetings. We meet and talk for 1/2 hour in English and 1/2 hour in Spanish. It is a really interesting way to meet new people who are local and looking for intellectual conversation and a good time. Most of the people that I have met there have been very interesting young professionals and university students who are interested in showing us around the city. Last meeting with the CIEE Spanish meeting, we went bowling and had a really good time! The other Spanish meeting that I go to meets once a week on Fridays for the Spanish session, and on Sundays for the English meeting. Every Friday, after the language exchange, we all go out to a bar for a few drinks, and then to a club for dancing. It is sooo much fun!!Sarahorientation

 Sadly, now it is getting colder and the beach is no longer the place to be, but at least that means it's boot season! Barcelona really is the fashion capital of Spain! There are so many beautiful places to shop! A friend and I have discovered two really cute shops next to the Sagrada Familia that sell beautiful clothes and art (sculpture, paintings, etc).

But, no matter how extravagant the shops are here, nothing compares to the way Barcelonians get down and dirty at their festivals! Of course, I am talking about La Merce!!!! (and more specifically about Correfoc!) Correfoc, the highlight of the most fantastic weekend in Barcelona so far, is most likely the most deliberately dangerous public activity I have been a part of. Throwing fireworks into a crowded street in the US would simply a bizarre and completely illegal thing to do. There is no way we would have been able to experience anything like this at home!

I feel like that is exactly what I am appreciating here in Barcelona. The things that make you want to say, "Woah! I would never eat/drink/think/do/see/feel/try that at home!" 


Edificio histórico de la Universitat de Barcelona

ValentinaName: Valentina
CIEE Barcelona Program: Advanced Liberal Arts

Semester: Fall 2010
Home School: Hood College

The CIEE Advanced Liberal Arts students take their intensive Spanish writing class at CIEE and then take most of their other courses directly in the Universitat de Barcelona. I am taking Spanish Phonetics and Phonology, Literature and a French class. The classes are challenging, but interesting.

So, one of the very first days of our estancia en Barcelona we had a little tour of the historical building of the University of Barcelona where the Department of Philology is situated… It is actually right at the Plaza Universitat (like a University Square), pretty much in the center of the city. The building is just enormous and beautiful. I think it’s the one that’s got the spirit of the centuries…even though I have not fully explored it..yet;)

A very nice and amiable lady from CIEE guided us to the huge room with so many pictures painted in the earlier times by not-as-famous-painters-as-Dali-or-Picasso, but still quite talented ones..=) There were pictures of reyes with religious topics… or not. She mentioned by the way that not every single UB (University of Barcelona) student gets a chance to enter this precious room and see all that’s inside. Well…keep in mind there are 92,000 of them (!)…makes sense.

Inside the central hall

(still) the inside area:Dsc07332

... and the ceiling:

 (my apologies for the light-part of the pics. it was pretty dark in there!(yet visible))

The beautiful garden I fell in love with at first sight:Dsc07345

This is it as for now. It is pouring outside right now, this rain could be compared only with the Costa Rican lluvia… ;)


Welcome to CIEE Barcelona!

Blog3CIEE Barcelona Staff at La Casa

Welcome to CIEE Barcelona! We've finally entered the world of Blogging and wanted to begin by giving a ‘virutal tour’ of the CIEE study center; known to us as “La Casa.”

In January of 2009 The CIEE Barcelona Study center moved from its previous location on Caller Trafalgar to a beautiful 19th century house at #10 Passage Permanyer (Passatge in Catalan). There are only a handful of these passages in Barcelona - cutting through the center of the city blocks.

In his book on the history of Barcelona, Robert Hughes explains the passages as  “private streets lined with houses, some of great charm and a sort of cottagey opulence, with blue tiled steps, palms, and orange trees in their front gardens. These cut across some of the blocks and provide oases of intimate scale in grid,” he adds that “Passage Permanyer is the handsomest.” We couldn't agree more! While we are located in the heart of the city, just steps from the bustling shopping street of Passage de Gracia, our cobblestone street remains a quiet oasis and peaceful place to study and work.

Blog15Passatge Permanyer

With the growth of the program we expanded again in January of 2010 – into the house next door. This doubled our classroom space and allowed for the building of a bigger studio for the Architecture & Design program. Summer 2010 construction united the houses from inside and added a new student lounge and terrace on the roof.

Blog4The Barcelona study center is now located in these
two houses at #10 and #12 on the passage.

La Casa contains the staff offices, 10 classrooms, the architecture studio, a computer lab (we also have wifi), and several outdoor patio spaces which students use to eat, study and relax. We hope that the center provides a comfortable base camp from which to explore this vibrant city.

Blog7While most students will have classes at local universities; Spanish intensive courses and some CIEE courses are taught at the center.

Student Lounges


The front patios - a popular place to relax between classes.

The Architecture Studio